India v Australia, 3rd Test, Mohali, 1st day March 14, 2013

Steven Smith's lucky break

49

Sometimes, players just find themselves in the right place at the right time. When Steven Smith was named in Australia's 17-man squad for this Indian tour, he appeared to be the 17th most likely to play a Test. The selectors made it plain that Smith was chosen as a backup batsman, not an allrounder, but the way they have structured the side with the wicketkeeper batting at six, Smith was not even the first backup - that role was occupied by Usman Khawaja.

But Khawaja forgot his homework and Matthew Wade rolled his ankle on the basketball court and all of a sudden, Smith has found himself back in the Test team for the first time since the disastrous Ashes series of 2010-11. That was the series that prompted the Argus Report. It was Australia's nadir, including as it did three innings losses at home to England.

Smith was a floating player of limited impact in that series. Xavier Doherty was an out-of-his-depth spinner. Ricky Ponting looked more chance of being around for the 2013 Ashes at age 38. Now, with two Tests remaining until the Ashes, Ponting is retired from Test cricket and is at home piling up Sheffield Shield hundreds - he scored 104 for Tasmania as the first day in Mohali was washed out - but Doherty and Smith are back in the Test side.

Smith will bat at No. 5 in Mohali. He is fortunate to be in the team, and not just because of Khawaja's off-field mistake. The Australian batting cupboard is alarmingly bare, as highlighted by the fact that Ponting is on top of the Shield run tally this year while Phillip Hughes, who has looked awful against spin on this tour and would have been dropped but for the homework punishments, is in second place.

Tasmania's Alex Doolan is enjoying a productive season back home and could have been considered for this tour but there are few other batsmen pressing their claims. When the squad was announced, John Inverarity spoke highly of Smith's ability against spin bowling, which swayed them to choose him despite him not having scored a Shield hundred this season. Not that his batting form has been poor: he has 296 runs at 37 this summer and averaged 41 last season.

In his first incarnation as a Test cricketer, against Pakistan in England in 2010, Smith was chosen as the frontline spinner in Australia's side. Against England he was a floating batting allrounder, but he did not have the technique for Test cricket. Now, he hardly bowls. He has sent down only 15 overs in the Shield this season and was getting hit over the top by the struggling Hughes during Australia's centre-wicket training on day four in Hyderabad.

But Smith is not here for his bowling. Good judges believe his technique has improved since he last played Test cricket. Inverarity believes so, as does Ponting, who captained four of the five Tests Smith has played. "I think we've seen Steven Smith develop into a better player in the last 12 months than he was when we first saw him play for Australia," Ponting said this week.

By the standards of Australian domestic cricket in recent years, his first-class batting record is actually pretty good. In 38 matches he has averaged 41.74 and has made five centuries and 14 fifties. He was the only Australian besides Ed Cowan to survive for 100 deliveries in the first of the warm-up matches in Chennai, where he scored 41 from 107 balls against the Indian Board President's XI.

"I think I've improved a lot the last 12 to 18 months," Smith said after being named in Australia's XI. "I've changed a couple of things with my technique that have made me a bit more stable at the crease, a bit more balanced and more selective as well. I feel like I'm tightening my technique up quite a bit and I feel as if I've been playing spin really well on this trip.

"I've probably always been more of a batsman than I was a bowler. Getting picked in different teams in those roles was very special. The first two Tests I played, I played as a bowler. It's a bit different now to come in as a No. 5 specialist batter and that's something I've worked really hard on in the last couple of years, tightening my technique up and becoming more balanced and getting big runs."

When Smith last played a Test he was 21 years old. He is only 23 now. There is still plenty of time for him to gain maturity. But for the time being, he has the chance to show what he has learnt over the past two years. It's good to be in the right place at the right time, but pointless unless you grab the chance when it's presented.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • GeoffreysMother on March 15, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    I take it all back Smiffy - you're the next Hussey, if not Benaud. Totally dominated the spinners, Australia's problems all answered. Sorry - been listening to Channel 9 commentators again. Seriously though, you did well and look a much better batsman mentally and technically than a couple of years ago.

  • on March 15, 2013, 11:50 GMT

    @Kane Weston knows little about cricket. I first saw Steve Smith bat when he was 15 playing first grade for Sutherland when I went down to Glenn McGrath Oval to watch Phil Jaques, McGrath et al play against Fairfield-Liverpool. Smith was all class and was an opening batsman at that point. Someone thought he should be a leg-spinning all-rounder and almost ruined him. He is a better batsman than Hughes who I first saw at age 13 in Grafton when he was playing for Nambucca-Bellingen in rep cricket. Both good players but Smith was better. It would be good to hear some comments from people that know something about the game and have watched cricket at close hand at all levels of the game....

  • on March 15, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Smith is a club cricketer who is doing ok for his state nothing more its sad that he ever got to play for Australia, when anyone who knows anything about cricket knew he was never going to be good enough but that's not his fault it's the selectors fault. I hope he can make some runs in this test to repay "true" Australian cricket fans for having to watch him in the first place but hope he never plays for Australia again and hope our poor little selectors can start picking the right players regardless of their personal feelings towards them.

  • Thefakebook on March 15, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    A huge Stevie Smith fan here he makes it to the OZ 11 in these condition before Hughes,Usman and Maxwell(yes its a ironical mention here).But so happy Smith finally came back under what so ever condition.Hope he Becomes the next Mike Hussey or even better in years to come!

  • Big-Dog on March 15, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    The fact that Smith was even selected to go to India simply highlights the ineptitude of Australia's cricket management. Smith has been given numerous opportunities in all formats of international cricket & has never succeeded in any of them yet he keeps getting selected. It beggers belief.

  • on March 15, 2013, 4:51 GMT

    He'll be fine, especially if we use the current batsmen's form as a guide. I'd bet good money on him picking up a 50 in this test match. In fact the way Australia has been playing so far in this tour I'd say Smith at 5 and Haddin at 6 is better option that what we've seen so far. If Hughes wasn't such a liability they could almost assure themselves of 300 in every innings and that's enough to be moderately competitive.

  • jmcilhinney on March 15, 2013, 4:41 GMT

    @Mitty2 on (March 14, 2013, 11:50 GMT), "it baffles me how we could score scores of over 550 and 600 against the worlds best bowling attack when the cupboard is so bare". The reason is obvious: Clarke and Hussey. Cowan scored a hundred in one of those big totals and Warner in the other while Clarke and Hussey, both class batsmen, scored big in both while noone else did much of anything. Hussey is gone and we're now seeing what happens when Clarke is the only one who can score regularly.

  • on March 15, 2013, 3:22 GMT

    Alex Doolan and George Bailey would have been better options. Smith is not going to do any damage. Aussies will be out by stumps today for under 220

  • Timbo2530 on March 15, 2013, 3:06 GMT

    I thought Steve Smith was going to be Australia's leg spin option but this has not happened although he is still young.

    It took a young Steve Waugh a long time to settle into test cricket so maybe Steve Smith can take some heart from this.

  • thebarmyarmy on March 15, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    Just when I thought I couldnt laugh any more!

  • GeoffreysMother on March 15, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    I take it all back Smiffy - you're the next Hussey, if not Benaud. Totally dominated the spinners, Australia's problems all answered. Sorry - been listening to Channel 9 commentators again. Seriously though, you did well and look a much better batsman mentally and technically than a couple of years ago.

  • on March 15, 2013, 11:50 GMT

    @Kane Weston knows little about cricket. I first saw Steve Smith bat when he was 15 playing first grade for Sutherland when I went down to Glenn McGrath Oval to watch Phil Jaques, McGrath et al play against Fairfield-Liverpool. Smith was all class and was an opening batsman at that point. Someone thought he should be a leg-spinning all-rounder and almost ruined him. He is a better batsman than Hughes who I first saw at age 13 in Grafton when he was playing for Nambucca-Bellingen in rep cricket. Both good players but Smith was better. It would be good to hear some comments from people that know something about the game and have watched cricket at close hand at all levels of the game....

  • on March 15, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Smith is a club cricketer who is doing ok for his state nothing more its sad that he ever got to play for Australia, when anyone who knows anything about cricket knew he was never going to be good enough but that's not his fault it's the selectors fault. I hope he can make some runs in this test to repay "true" Australian cricket fans for having to watch him in the first place but hope he never plays for Australia again and hope our poor little selectors can start picking the right players regardless of their personal feelings towards them.

  • Thefakebook on March 15, 2013, 9:28 GMT

    A huge Stevie Smith fan here he makes it to the OZ 11 in these condition before Hughes,Usman and Maxwell(yes its a ironical mention here).But so happy Smith finally came back under what so ever condition.Hope he Becomes the next Mike Hussey or even better in years to come!

  • Big-Dog on March 15, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    The fact that Smith was even selected to go to India simply highlights the ineptitude of Australia's cricket management. Smith has been given numerous opportunities in all formats of international cricket & has never succeeded in any of them yet he keeps getting selected. It beggers belief.

  • on March 15, 2013, 4:51 GMT

    He'll be fine, especially if we use the current batsmen's form as a guide. I'd bet good money on him picking up a 50 in this test match. In fact the way Australia has been playing so far in this tour I'd say Smith at 5 and Haddin at 6 is better option that what we've seen so far. If Hughes wasn't such a liability they could almost assure themselves of 300 in every innings and that's enough to be moderately competitive.

  • jmcilhinney on March 15, 2013, 4:41 GMT

    @Mitty2 on (March 14, 2013, 11:50 GMT), "it baffles me how we could score scores of over 550 and 600 against the worlds best bowling attack when the cupboard is so bare". The reason is obvious: Clarke and Hussey. Cowan scored a hundred in one of those big totals and Warner in the other while Clarke and Hussey, both class batsmen, scored big in both while noone else did much of anything. Hussey is gone and we're now seeing what happens when Clarke is the only one who can score regularly.

  • on March 15, 2013, 3:22 GMT

    Alex Doolan and George Bailey would have been better options. Smith is not going to do any damage. Aussies will be out by stumps today for under 220

  • Timbo2530 on March 15, 2013, 3:06 GMT

    I thought Steve Smith was going to be Australia's leg spin option but this has not happened although he is still young.

    It took a young Steve Waugh a long time to settle into test cricket so maybe Steve Smith can take some heart from this.

  • thebarmyarmy on March 15, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    Just when I thought I couldnt laugh any more!

  • funkybluesman on March 15, 2013, 1:03 GMT

    Most of the people having a go at Smith (similar to Hughes) then go and suggest alternate batsmen who often have worse First class records than the players they are sledging, or at best only similar, certainly not better.

    Smith's biggest issue is that he was a talented young batsman who bowled a little bit of part-time leg-spin, someone saw him bowling on a good day and decided he could be the next Warne and suddenly he's playing international cricket being asked to do things that aren't his specialty.

    He's a consistent first class performer with the bat, and as pointed out, there aren't exactly a lot of people banging the door down with weight of shield runs at the moment.

    Give him a break guys!

  • Rowayton on March 15, 2013, 0:23 GMT

    I have a bit of time for Steve Smith. Those taliking about his Test record have no sense of history - anyway 200 odd runs at 28 after 5 Tests as a kid isn't that bad. After the same number of Tests Kallis had scored the grand total of 57 runs at an average of 8 - after 9 Tests Ian Chappell had scored 258 at an average of 18. I think they turned out OK. If you pick em young, you have to be prepared for a few failures. I agree Burns will play for Australia - however, it's probably better to score centuries before the team is selected rather than afterwards. Burns had a very ordinary start to this season.

  • BustIPL on March 14, 2013, 23:14 GMT

    I will prefer Smith to bowl as well as he will add the variety to aussie bowling attack. Wonderful combo of off spin, left arm legspin and right arm legspin to draw indian bastmen to the frontfoot. With two fastmen to keep indian batsmen on the backfoot. And as soon as they will be b/w backfoot and frontfoot there can be a wicket for aussies. Anyway good contest on the cards. Go Smith Go. I am with you.

  • on March 14, 2013, 23:01 GMT

    You say your batting cupboard is bare, but in the Shield averages you see people like Chris Rogers and Callum Ferguson still scoring runs.

  • righthandbat on March 14, 2013, 22:02 GMT

    Steven Smith has the benefits of being young (23), being a good fielder and having some international experience already. He potentially could be a very useful bat at 5 or 6, where if he works on it, could provide a useful part-time spin option. He certainly couldn't be picked as an allrounder by any means.

    The problem is, players lke Steven Smith are more suited to the shorter forms of the game and in this era I think that there needs to be test/odi players and odi/t20 players.

    Anyway, good luck to Smith, if he gets some runs and keeps working at it he might end up being a very solid middle-order player.

  • siddharth_r2001 on March 14, 2013, 21:30 GMT

    "I feel as if I've been playing spin really well on this trip." Which spinners has he faced to say he's playing spin well on this trip? Doherty, Lyon and Maxwell? Against whom even India's tailenders would score big! If that is the criterion to judge a player's ability against spin (making them face Doherty, Lyon & Maxwell) and slot him at no. 5 in Test line up, then God save Australian cricket!!

  • Nampally on March 14, 2013, 21:30 GMT

    Judging by what little I saw of Smith in the IPL, I was very impressed by his brilliant fielding & attacking batting. I personally feel that he will do well at #5 spot. All the negative comments about him are counter productive. What this team needs in terms of both batting & bowling are the guys who have experience of playing in Indian conditions. Ponting, Watson, Clarke, Johnson, Tate, Bollinger & Hulfenhaus all have plenty of experience from IPL in addition to Smith. Treating Watson, Johnson & Pattinson like school Kids with homework assignments & suspending them for failing to do homework makes a mockery of Green bags.Is this how Bradman & Co wanted Aussies to function thru' homework? Those old time bowlers like Miller, Lindwall, Benaud, Davidson, Warne, McGarth + batsmen like Harvey, Morris,Hasset, Lawry, Simpson, Ponting, Hussey let their bats & Ball talk for them - not Homework! Clarke & Arthur should take a page from the old timers & reset their priorities & approach!

  • Chris_P on March 14, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    Having seen the improvement of Smith's game the past 2 seasons it was good to see him rewarded for his work he has done. The puzzling thing is that Invers has seen him bat, watched him playing both spin & pace with a better technique & noted it but what was he doing when SOK was in action? Smith, MoHen & SOK have been among the better performing consistent players for NSW the past 2 years yet one of them is still back at home?

  • on March 14, 2013, 20:25 GMT

    So, lots of comment about Steve Smith not being up to it. I think those of you who put him down should be very careful indeed. Australian cricket history is full of stories of players who were ordinary at their first attempt at Test cricket, only to blossom at their second attempt. Smith could well be another of those. With Smith on one side of the wicket and Warner on the other, Australia's fielding goes up several notches and cuts India down by at least 20-30 runs. This tour might not be the best time, but Smith's captain, be it at State level, or Clarke at Test level, need to encourage his bowling, and Australia may well end up with a very useful legspinning all-rounder. Go Aussies!

  • jr1972 on March 14, 2013, 20:08 GMT

    Smith at 5! It could be worse, he could be at 4. Maybe I am being a little harsh...after all, he did get his homework in on time.

  • swauzzie on March 14, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    I'm not a S. Smith fan at all. Thought he was an odd choice too for the touring party. BUT I hope he comes out & scores a ton, backs his captain up! If nothing else other than so that all of you so & so's choke on your own words!!

  • blink182alex on March 14, 2013, 18:22 GMT

    I was astonished when i saw his name in the squad for the tour. There is no way he is in the best 7 batsmen in the country, he seems to be way overrated within Australia when every other country recognizes he is rubbish. His technique is still way off what a test batsmen should have, he is fidgeting all the time and cannot defend comfortably. Anderson, Finn etc will be all over him if he plays in the Ashes.

    The only reason he was selected for this tour is because he had a good IPL last year, which is a disgrace, he's a good fielder but that's it.

  • on March 14, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    Steve Smith at no.5? Oh dear!! This is beyond scraping the bottom. Lyon has showed better batting promise than him, so maybe Lyon will come in at no.4 and Smith at no.5? The ideal batting order should be: 1. Clarke (best and only batsman) 2. Cowan (showed fight) 3. warner (pinch hitter at 3, like Srinath) 4. Lyon (good temperament, can stabilize the innings) 5. Smith (because management says so, LOL) 6. Henriques (Did well here in the first test) 7. Doherty (Not out in both innings last match) 8. Starc ( by drawing lots) 9. Siddle (he is an established batsman at this position) 10. Haddin (temperament of a genuine tailender) 11. Hughes (technique of a genuine taileneder). Boy that looks good! I reckon this team has a good chance to win at Mohali.

  • on March 14, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    I just hope now that with these four players punished the rest stand up score runs/take wickets an win this game just so all the doubters out there will stop the negative comments

  • on March 14, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    i think that Steve's leg breakers would be crucial for oz bowling..... with James Pattinson, Watson, Doherty, Maxwell out their bowling attack highly depends upon Starc and Steve....best of luck to steve however as an indian supporter i think he would not be able to compete ash and jadu or bhajji.....but Steve should try his best to take his team home... he should perform very well to become a permanent member of Aussy team

  • Unmesh_cric on March 14, 2013, 15:34 GMT

    I like this chap. This guy is undoubtedly the best fielder in the world today. He is a positive player, probably more suited for ODIs and T20s. But I have a feeling that he is going to do well in India even in Tests. Anyway other Australian batsmen are not performing. So why not give him a chance? I would play him ahead of Philip Hughes at least in Indian conditions..Phil Hughes is yet to score a run against spinners in this series.

  • SevereCritic on March 14, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    @Gordon Booth - Phil Hughes plays at 3; does it make him as good as Bradman? Compare apples to apples please. One of the advantages of the AUS team for Mohali is that the number of lefties has been reduced to 3. (the top 3 in the order). The trio of RH batsmen of Clarke, Haddin and Smith will have lesser problems against Indian offspinners than their LH counterparts. Since India hasnt announced their team yet, it remains to be seen if India sticks with the same combo of bowlers or bring in Ojha for Harbajhan. Smith also has the added advantage of having played a lot of spin in India in the IPL, which should at least count towards reducing his fear of the turning ball.

  • SurlyCynic on March 14, 2013, 14:27 GMT

    @Mitty2: Keep telling yourself that Aus 'almost won' those tests, it will help ease the pain. Reminds me a bit of how other teams used to explain away losses against the great Aus team of the past. And the idea that there was ever going to be a result in the first test is laughable, after a day was lost to rain and SA only lost a couple of wickets on day 2 - they only lost more wickets trying to move the game along on day 3.

    But the subject at hand is Steve Smith. I don't know any Aussies who consider him amongst the top test batsmen in the country. So the idea that he is now in the first 11 is surely worthy of comment.

  • IndianSRTfan on March 14, 2013, 14:17 GMT

    Posted by Mitty2 on (March 14, 2013, 11:50 GMT): I agree with you completely there. I think everyone has been really overtly critical of Smith. Everyone does not get a dream debut. A couple of bad series doesn't mean he's extremely bad. I know IPL performances can't be any sort of measure of ability, but as he played for my city's franchise, I saw him bat well on Indian pitches. Especially his footwork looked sure against the spinners like Murli and Warne. Maybe he has improved his batting. At least give him a chance before final judgement is passed.

    One word for arrogant English fans who think they nw are world beaters and have the right 2 flay everyone: You still haven't won a ODI WC. You haven't dominated cricket for any amount of time except for patches like 2011-12. Nd in TESTS which all of you love (mainly because you're doing well in it now), you're still number 2. You have a bunch of talented players sure but they won't play forever. Don't be so vain, it can cost you l8r

  • bumsonseats on March 14, 2013, 14:11 GMT

    they have got to play someone. on the day the party was announced a couple of things came about. the number in the tour party, and the lack of batting strength. i have been critical of batting strength in the past but smith would not have been in my batting stocks in a 2nd squad with similar numbers selected. hes a odi player at best who cannot bowl. so i take it hes been selected for his fielding ( which is very good ). its a shocker of a selection in a party of shocks.

  • gsingh7 on March 14, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    smith?? lols the cupboard is well and truely bare. no way he will be selected again for aus after he concede dozens to indians on flat pitches. i want no rain tomorrow

  • GeoffreysMother on March 14, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    Let's be fair. When he first came on the scene Amla looked out of his depth. Now with Clarke and Cook (who unlike Clarke does not have some cannon fodder to protect him from the new ball) he is the best in the world. Smith must have improved if the Aussie selectors say so ...ah, that is the small flaw in my argument.

  • Big_Maxy_Walker on March 14, 2013, 12:22 GMT

    I don't agree with him being on the tour in first place but out of whats left id much rather have smith than Maxwell as a batsman. Yes it does help being from nsw in more than one sport

  • Edwards_Anderson on March 14, 2013, 12:18 GMT

    I think Steve Smith might do well against India, England or South Africa would touch him up quick-smart, but I think his game might suit India's bowlers. Still very dissapointed not to see Khawaja there but hopefully we see him in the 4th test as he is made for test cricket. And for the negative comments on Smith, surerly there have been worse … can't think of any right now, maybe in 78/79 when all the best players went to WSC or in the 80′s when half the team left for South Africa, or in the 20′s when the pitches got wet and they used to reverse the order to protect the batsmen …

  • D.V.C. on March 14, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    Haddin should bat 5, Smith at 6.

  • reddawn1975 on March 14, 2013, 11:52 GMT

    Steve Smith is the worst player in the country why is he there in the first place let alone playing State cricket ,,,,,,,There so many players not getting there chance because of this guy who really is a very average bowler and shocking Batsmen sorry i hate to sound nasty be he just not good enough

  • Mitty2 on March 14, 2013, 11:50 GMT

    @surlycynic, and yet funnily enough, he has a higher FC average over both the stoic faf and the ever graceful alviro peterson.

    By no means am i going to legitametely going to compare the three, as smith has been unssuccessful, to say the least, in capitalizing on his test oppurtunities, whereas faf has most definitely and peterson has to a large extent. But the incessant denigration of smith and other young batsmen needs to stop. I wonder why such taunts aren't giving to a patel, a morgan or a bopara despite their such respective failiures, but i guess it must be much more rewarding to take a cowardly dig at a team in rebuild.

    How embarrasing would it have been though, 'surley', to have almost lost two tests against the bottom scraping minnows in australia. When the cupboard is so bare, it baffles me how we could score scores of over 550 and 600 against the worlds best bowling attack when the cupboard is so bare?

  • Bonehead_maz on March 14, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    A few years ago it was obvious that Smith was a better cricketer at same age than Benaud.

    Ian Chappell and Bobby Simpson too (not to mentions Stackpole) started as lower order wrist spinners. Despite that trio's catching, they never in their life fielded near as well as Smith !

    This guy will go alright ! It's usually forgotten he nearly drew the ;last series in Imdia, and I'd bet that miss was/is unlikely again !

  • SurlyCynic on March 14, 2013, 11:16 GMT

    Steve Smith? As RandyOZ would say, 'the cupboard is bare'!

  • Mitty2 on March 14, 2013, 11:06 GMT

    ever heard of joe burns byron? Sure he only averages 42, but that is much better than joe root's average of 39 and he'ssupposedly a world beater.. not to mention the fact that the second division in Aus does not count towards your FC average like it does in the CC system in england. So despite root's mediocre average, it is still inflated in the first place. Let's also not to mention that he plays on the green tops of the gabba. This pitch with grass plus the humidity is one of, if not, the hardest pitches to play on.

    Aus's best young batsmen IMO: 1. hughes 2. Khawaja 3. burns 4. doolan 6. Smith All but doolan average above 40, same cannot be said about england's young "talent". And on average, if we don't select for youth (and excluding punter and huss), chris rogers would be first and peter neville third. The cupboard is no where near as bare as you make it out to be. I'm sure the proven likes of eoin morgan, samit patel and ravi bopara add real depth lol..

  • on March 14, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    now all the guys who were calling for Ponting's head can understand why he kept reiterating that he believed he had something to offer the current test team. surely they would be better off with him in. The attention to detail, the intensity, the tenacity, the appetite for runs, the toughness and the application he brought clearly lacking among the Oz cricketers. when you are an ordinary side like they currently are, your best bet is to do the basics right... like showing up for training on time, putting on the right attire for a task, doing your homework, etc etc. to those who oppose the axing of those 4; you need to understand the mental nature of the game. clearly after Hyderabad the team was mentally knackered, and battered... hence the need for a mental exercise in the form of a written assignment, to help the players re-focus mentally. if they couldnt commit themselves to do some mental preparation/training, then the physical training might well be a waste of time...

  • crow_eater on March 14, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    The "passenger" gets another go, surely this is now officially Australian Crickets lowest point. Before the homework saga I was at least hoping they would send Hughes home so we can have him back in the Redbacks where he's sorely needed. Now it's all gone to hell in a hand basket! Oh the pain, oh the misery......

  • tpjpower on March 14, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    Brydon, while standards have certainly deteriorated in the Shield, there is no way Smith should have been picked for this tour ahead of Joe Burns. He is the best young batsman in Australia, and is only overlooked because he comes from Queensland. Smith was selected to tour (and hence, is playing this Test) for one reason only: he's New South Welsh.

  • ygkd on March 14, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Steven Smith's first lucky break was being born in Sydney. Then he got to play Pakistan when they were well ... it's hard to know what they were. This would then be his third lucky break. And some say luck pays little part in a cricket career.

  • bruceparrot on March 14, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    I feel very pleased for Steve and I really hope he is able to take the bull by the horns. However, I still have major, clinical concerns with regard to the team management.I suspect behind closed doors, M. Clarke has little influence and simply ends up with the dirty work of telling player that he thinks they're great but sacked. Change the system, don;t let's continue the system that the Don thought so valuable, don't pay them , let them bleed. The cricketers of today, worldwide, are well paid and generally do a great job promoting the game, but let's not forget that many are young like Steve Smith and have a lot still to learn. Not how to fill in a report but how to use the experience they get to develop their talents. Well ,I hope we are talking about S. Smith in another 10 years, I seem to remember a little smart a.... from Tas some years ago , who got into lots of hot water for his behavior. I think he turned out to be a pretty fair player, didn't he?

  • satishchandar on March 14, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    The guy plays in top for NSW. He is better player of spin than many of the guys in the team. I won't say he will become good. But he might do better job than any of the current crop there. It is really aa lucky break. Two batsmen who are first choice went out due to the HW saga. As i always say, it is upto the player to make up or the chances they get and try to hold their place in the team.

  • on March 14, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    Even though both the Indian batsmen and bowling line ups will be licking their lips at this Aus lineup if Starc and Siddle get it right and one or two bats stand up (with or without MC) the Indians may have a match on their hands. Call it wishful thinking if you like. But I'm not even an Aus supporter. In regards to Steve Smith getting a chance here. Surely he would have been thrown a game after the debacle that was Hyderabad

  • on March 14, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    Definitely one of australias better players of spin.. Cant seem to understand why the batting coach thinks its not too early to sound the alarm tht their players are falling to spin and wont affect their ashes campaign.. Umm...have you forgotten that a certain Graeme Swann and Monty Panesay exist? they'd equally trouble these batsmen with techniques' like hughes.. Smith should be in the X1 though.. like his counterattacking ability..

  • on March 14, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    Steve Smith at 5? Does that mean he's as good a player as Michael Clarke.More embarrassment for Australia on the way

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on March 14, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    Steve Smith at 5? Does that mean he's as good a player as Michael Clarke.More embarrassment for Australia on the way

  • on March 14, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    Definitely one of australias better players of spin.. Cant seem to understand why the batting coach thinks its not too early to sound the alarm tht their players are falling to spin and wont affect their ashes campaign.. Umm...have you forgotten that a certain Graeme Swann and Monty Panesay exist? they'd equally trouble these batsmen with techniques' like hughes.. Smith should be in the X1 though.. like his counterattacking ability..

  • on March 14, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    Even though both the Indian batsmen and bowling line ups will be licking their lips at this Aus lineup if Starc and Siddle get it right and one or two bats stand up (with or without MC) the Indians may have a match on their hands. Call it wishful thinking if you like. But I'm not even an Aus supporter. In regards to Steve Smith getting a chance here. Surely he would have been thrown a game after the debacle that was Hyderabad

  • satishchandar on March 14, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    The guy plays in top for NSW. He is better player of spin than many of the guys in the team. I won't say he will become good. But he might do better job than any of the current crop there. It is really aa lucky break. Two batsmen who are first choice went out due to the HW saga. As i always say, it is upto the player to make up or the chances they get and try to hold their place in the team.

  • bruceparrot on March 14, 2013, 10:06 GMT

    I feel very pleased for Steve and I really hope he is able to take the bull by the horns. However, I still have major, clinical concerns with regard to the team management.I suspect behind closed doors, M. Clarke has little influence and simply ends up with the dirty work of telling player that he thinks they're great but sacked. Change the system, don;t let's continue the system that the Don thought so valuable, don't pay them , let them bleed. The cricketers of today, worldwide, are well paid and generally do a great job promoting the game, but let's not forget that many are young like Steve Smith and have a lot still to learn. Not how to fill in a report but how to use the experience they get to develop their talents. Well ,I hope we are talking about S. Smith in another 10 years, I seem to remember a little smart a.... from Tas some years ago , who got into lots of hot water for his behavior. I think he turned out to be a pretty fair player, didn't he?

  • ygkd on March 14, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Steven Smith's first lucky break was being born in Sydney. Then he got to play Pakistan when they were well ... it's hard to know what they were. This would then be his third lucky break. And some say luck pays little part in a cricket career.

  • tpjpower on March 14, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    Brydon, while standards have certainly deteriorated in the Shield, there is no way Smith should have been picked for this tour ahead of Joe Burns. He is the best young batsman in Australia, and is only overlooked because he comes from Queensland. Smith was selected to tour (and hence, is playing this Test) for one reason only: he's New South Welsh.

  • crow_eater on March 14, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    The "passenger" gets another go, surely this is now officially Australian Crickets lowest point. Before the homework saga I was at least hoping they would send Hughes home so we can have him back in the Redbacks where he's sorely needed. Now it's all gone to hell in a hand basket! Oh the pain, oh the misery......

  • on March 14, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    now all the guys who were calling for Ponting's head can understand why he kept reiterating that he believed he had something to offer the current test team. surely they would be better off with him in. The attention to detail, the intensity, the tenacity, the appetite for runs, the toughness and the application he brought clearly lacking among the Oz cricketers. when you are an ordinary side like they currently are, your best bet is to do the basics right... like showing up for training on time, putting on the right attire for a task, doing your homework, etc etc. to those who oppose the axing of those 4; you need to understand the mental nature of the game. clearly after Hyderabad the team was mentally knackered, and battered... hence the need for a mental exercise in the form of a written assignment, to help the players re-focus mentally. if they couldnt commit themselves to do some mental preparation/training, then the physical training might well be a waste of time...

  • Mitty2 on March 14, 2013, 11:06 GMT

    ever heard of joe burns byron? Sure he only averages 42, but that is much better than joe root's average of 39 and he'ssupposedly a world beater.. not to mention the fact that the second division in Aus does not count towards your FC average like it does in the CC system in england. So despite root's mediocre average, it is still inflated in the first place. Let's also not to mention that he plays on the green tops of the gabba. This pitch with grass plus the humidity is one of, if not, the hardest pitches to play on.

    Aus's best young batsmen IMO: 1. hughes 2. Khawaja 3. burns 4. doolan 6. Smith All but doolan average above 40, same cannot be said about england's young "talent". And on average, if we don't select for youth (and excluding punter and huss), chris rogers would be first and peter neville third. The cupboard is no where near as bare as you make it out to be. I'm sure the proven likes of eoin morgan, samit patel and ravi bopara add real depth lol..